GenCon. The Big-Kahuna. The Grandpappy of all gaming conventions. So what do three gaming geeks do on a Saturday with zero sleep and nothing but time and money to burn? They hop in their car and go to see the big show in all of its’ glory. And what a show it was! Right from the start, I was immediately impressed with the sheer magnitude of this mecca of gaming. The arena was more than adequate to hold the convention unlike Milwaukee, which was crowded and claustrophobic. Indianapolis was certainly a trade up for accessibility in my opinion.
So what’s a geek to do first, you say? Well, the first thing we had to do was check in. Probably the most tiresome aspect of the whole affair. However, in fairness to the convention folks, this was their first year in a new city and they seemed terribly understaffed. Not to mention the sheer mass of humanity that was being herded through the entryway was astounding. After this leg breaking experience though, you are propelled into a world of gaming glitz and glamour.
To start off, major companies like Upper Deck had truly stadium sized chambers which blew us away from the start. The big companies were definitely making their mid-year push before the year starts winding down into the Christmas season. The amount of money they pumped into this convention just boggles the mind. Wizkids and our good friends at Games-Workshop were certainly making their push as well, but I’ll talk about that in a little bit.
So you say you want media guests, eh? Ha! Have fun standing in line for the next 10 years. Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Babylon 5, you name it, they were there. Another testament to the power this convention draws. The list of artists and guests was incredible. It’s almost surreal for this geek to know that Gimli (John Rhys Davies) is in the same room. Then again, I was born to be a dwarf warrior.
One of the things that impressed me as well as depressed me was the sheer space given to the vendors. I say impressed because there were certainly more vendors here than at last years GenCon. Primarily because Milwaukee simply had no room, even with the size of the convention center they had. I say depressed because you simply could not take in the vendors all in one day. When people tell you that you need at least three days to take it all in, they’re not lying. You just can’t do it in a day. Unfortunately, one day is all we had.
One of my most memorable moments was visiting the Games Workshop hall. They had a preview of the Beastmen codex, which was drawing a hoard of little Ungors. The Beastmen will be a truly impressive army. Of course my favorite part was eying the new Shadow and Flame figures that were on display. Sorry to the folks at Games Workshop for having to watch me drool on them! This product line will most certainly push Lord of the Rings into most wanted status this summer. The Dwarves, the Uruk-Hai Shaman, the Khazad Guard, they are all enough to keep the summer sizzling for every Tolkien fanatic.
To wrap it all up in a nutshell, GenCon is so big and so impressive that I highly recommend you schedule at least 3 days if you plan on attending next year. I just couldn’t take it all in with only one day. Nor could I possibly do it justice by giving a full critique. Suffice to say that the parking was reasonable, the entrance fee moderate but not overpriced, the space was more than adequate, and the glamour overwhelming. They had their problems, but they certainly weren’t to be blamed for any lack of enthusiasm or effort. Give this convention another year under its’ belt and you’ll see a well oiled machine ready to rouse the imagination and keep the gamers returning for many years to come.